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Academy of Dental Management Consultants Corner: 5 ways to be S.M.A.R.T. about your dental practice's goals


This year is already moving quickly forward and you have already experienced some data that provides you with insight as to where you are headed on your path to your goals. Maybe you are already celebrating and hoping that you keep doing what’s working or maybe you are down and can’t figure out what’s not working.


Here’s what successful dental teams do differently

Stating a goal out loud, saying, “Make it happen,” agreeing with each other by saying, “Yep, we can do this,” is probably the most common approach to goals I see in practices. This is a perfectly logical first step to establishing goals and a prescription for disaster all rolled into one.


Goals must be written in order to achieve the best success. Many published consultants and speakers cite the following study: In 1953, researchers surveyed Yale's graduating seniors to determine how many of them had specific, written goals for their future. The answer: 3%. Twenty years later, researchers polled the surviving members of the Class of 1953 — and found that the 3% with goals had accumulated more personal financial wealth than the other 97% of the class combined!


You can consistently achieve your goals by creating and pursuing the S.M.A.R.T. goal process.

Specific: Don’t say let’s produce more or let’s produce 1 million a year, but be more specific. Say $83,333.00 per month or even better state what you will need to do daily to achieve your goal. Create a clear picture.

Motivational: Your goals have to be exciting and be something in which everyone can be invested (e.g. make my job easier, make the service better, faster, more fun, more money, etc.). Consider having rewards attached to the steps along the way. That which is rewarded is repeated.

Attainable: Do set higher goals, but not unreachable goals. If you have a history of producing $30,000 a month and your highest month ever was $50,000 and then you set the goal for 1 million this year or $83,333 per month, that might be pie in sky for now. Set incremental growth goals. When you have a trend of success, increase the goal.

Relevant: Goals must match the mission of the practice and not be against your vision, who you are, what you want to accomplish for your patients, etc.

Trackable: You must have the ability to measure your success, not just have a feeling of success. Success can be predictable (if we do this step, we should see this happen, etc.).


After you have developed your goal, the next step to accomplishing it is writing the goal utilizing a specific process. The following are the strategic steps for success:

Write the goal (positively worded and be specific).

Design the plan: List the steps, needs, objectives, and strategies. Plan and map out what you must do in terms of specific tasks to reach this goal.

Person or persons: Determine who will be responsible to perform each task.

Timeline: When must each task be completed?

Evaluation: Review the successes and challenges. Just like a captain must adjust the sails to capture the wind and change course, if you don’t evaluate, how will you adjust what you are doing to achieve your goals?


Goals give us direction and focus. They break down impossible undertakings into achievable tasks, and they help us keep our vision clear and our movement steady. This year can be all that you want it to be. Just remember to be S.M.A.R.T. and get those goals written.

Editor's Note: For more information on the Academy of Dental Management Consultants, please click here.

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